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Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD

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The Psychology of Heartbreak

Posted: 05/21/10 01:58 PM ET

Why is it that love is related to heart? Can psychology explain this? And what does it feel when we experience a broken heart?

Well this article is about more than just a broken heart caused by others. It is also about a broken heart that we self-create due to avoiding all there is to us -- a depth, an unbelievable being. For those of us who've experienced a broken heart, it is not a good feeling. It is so intense that some of us will do anything to escape it, which creates even more problems. We find someone and fall in love and before we know it, something happens and boom, it's over. There is a grieving process that goes on after our heart is broken, from denial to anger to depression and finally acceptance. Some of us get through these stages faster, some slower. Some never get through and feel stuck. Why different people respond to this differently requires multilevel explanations. It depends on one's emotional maturity, one's level of connectivity, and one's type of personality. But a broken heart, like any other part of life, can be healed, it just needs time, patience, self healing and determination to start the healing process.

Humans are multifaceted and are made of many layers. It starts with the most dense and
physical coating, moving through to the most transparent ones. But they are all reflections of each other. How one goes about naming these different layers is not the point here, but how one understands their functionality is the focus. We don't want to get too indulged in terminology, but in application.

We are physical, emotional, mental, intellectual and spiritual beings. If we acknowledge one but not the other, we are hindering the harmonizing process between these elements and blocking the concept of full potential. The same goes when we try to find a partner. While in the beginning of the process of evolution having a partner just for satisfying physical needs (sex for child birth, shelter, food, etc) was enough, but it hardly does it for many of us anymore. We need more, we need someone whom we can connect to emotionally and intellectually and then even deeper than that into the mental and spiritual aspects of our existence.

We need to learn to go beyond what our senses can see/hear/feel/touch and pay attention to the deep. If we don't, we will lose what we could have and will create disharmony by focusing too much on one area and neglecting the other. Imagine our bodies if our legs grow but not our hands, our body will be classified as disproportionate by a physician. The same goes for the deeper stuff we are made of. All our elements should be growing in harmony. For example, if we are too intellectual, but do not know how to acknowledge, handle and respond to our emotions, we have work to do. Or if we are spiritual but do not know how to grow intellectually, we are blocking and repressing a part of us and may even become limited or delusional with our concept of spirituality. Now until we learn about these aspects within, it would be hart to find a compatible match from the external world. We can't expect others to make us happy, if we don't know how to do it ourselves.

The higher we connect to our deeper or higher part of the self, the less we function based on too much neediness, pure self-interest, arrogance, fear, insecurity and other negative forces. The higher we climb up the ladder of this depth, the more natural the flow of being. The more natural we get, the more aware we become of ourselves and our surrounding. Then it gets easier to connect to those who are compatible with us. Once we get there, everything we do is out of love, not some form of ego-based function. We still have needs, basic and advanced ones, but we are in complete control of when, how, and where we want these needs met. We are not slaves but masters of our own functioning and as a result we don't expect others to be our slaves, to change for us, to satisfy us, and to make us happy without giving the same in return. Our intentions become clear to ourselves and as a result to others.

The deeper the sense of love, the harder it gets to let go. There are a number of theories on love, what it means and how it is formed. The focus of this article is not to discuss these theories even though it is worth reading to learn more about. However, this article explains why sometimes when we think we are loving, we may not be. A true sense of love is based on a sense of healthy connection rather than anxious or insecure attachment. Like any other emotion, love has many levels to it; we can go from the shallowest form to the deepest. How far we want to go is a personal choice and depends on our level of maturity as well. WE can't also ignore some luck along with synchronicity and awareness of it. But once a love is found, it does not mean that there is a happily even after automatically build in it and that it comes with this self-maintenance button that we can push. It does not mean it won't need effort to keep it growing. It does need to be maintained but the maintenance is not to fix what is broken but to build on what is growing and what feels good. At the end, even if there is some pain involved with such love, the gain is much worth the pain. All involved in such love should feel fulfilled by it and feel like they are being helped with their growth.

A love that is only based on sense and chemicals is to fade away much quicker and is harder to be long lasting. A deep love is the one with an inner connection on many levels emotionally, mentally, intellectually and physically. This love helps with growth and nurturing and is more likely to last if both grow together and are committed to each other. Commitment is a behavior that can be learned if the seed is planted right.

If we find the ability to take control of the side of ego that is needy, immature, and arrogant and turn into our higher self for helping us find and do what is needed in the journey of life, the love would be much more worth to experience. When we let that child or ego side of us to take control and pick for us, the child may act impulsively, may keep on changing its mind, may pick for the wrong reason (instant gratification rather than long term satisfaction), may pick something quickly and get tired of it just as fast, or may not pay attention to the cost. In addition, the child side may have too many insecurities or too much pride to be able to handle a healthy connection. It may drain the other of its valuable energy rather than placing him/her in a give and take bond.

We need to make sure we are not using that love as a tool for our own self satisfaction but that we both are taking care of each other.

You may enjoy this little poem I wrote while talking to someone who had recently experienced a break up and a broken heart:

What a price to pay for that pride
The love we had for each other was denied

As if a wall of cloud blocked us from seeing
What we were doing to each other's being

The heavy load we created for that love
Broke its wings and brought it down from above

What dreams we had that never grew
What could we have, I wish I knew

It took so long to find a fit heart
It took so short to fly apart

At the end, many of us are going through a state of confusion and even turmoil not because we have lost a love one but because we have neglected our own deeper sense of being. We have not been able to connect to ourselves. We know something is missing; we look for it outside not knowing all we have to do is re connect with what we hold. We have to attend to what we have been avoiding, we avoided it because we have been too busy with the games of life thinking everything else is more important. Well, if that did not work, how about we try something new. How about we start from within and work our way out? Let's see if that works better. It sure is worth a try. And while we're at it why not do some self reflection, it may take us a long way. When we self reflect, we can learn of what our intentions are. Most of us are blind to it because it is somewhere in our unconscious and we never bother to dig in and see what it is. For example, do we know why we want love, do we want a stable relationship or just want to try things out, do we know why we want to love, what are our deeper needs, why do we really want a relationship, is it to escape something within or it is to unite, do we know the details of our intention or just some broad view like "I just want to be happy." Happiness is a term that is very personal. What makes you happy may not make other happy depending on many things. So, get to know yourself first before you want to step into a relationship, enter a relationship with an open heart and let the other help you with your growth. This will help a lot of issues down the line.

Please choose wisely. Don't waste too much of your valuable time for what only feels like chasing your own tail, make sure what you hold dear and important is shared with the one whom you choose for love. As you grow in depth, you begin to claim your own individual being while wanting a sense of pure connection. You see a shift and a change and have to pay attention and respond to that change. People who speak to your inner being look more attractive to you than those who live on the surface, you value the former more. Therefore, just be open and attentive to the changes that come along and experience them. Recognize the influence of others in your essence's growth, is it discomforting or nurturing. Be careful with what you invite in.